Church to use center for events

GLOVERSVILLE – The Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County Board of Directors has decided to allow the First Free Methodist Church to use its facility to lend a hand to families in need on Thursday mornings during the winter months.

For the last three years on the second Thursday of the month, a crowd has gathered at the farmers market pavilion on Elm Street to get something every family needs – food.

The Mass Food event allows families to pick up produce, bread, milk, eggs and other food items at no charge. The food is provided by the church through the Regional Food Bank in Latham.

Eugene Reppenhagen, the president of the center’s Board of Directors, said he believes the program is a valuable resource to the community and is pleased to help, but there were questions that remained in terms making sure the church has enough insurance coverage to be responsible for any accident while the event takes place.

“Our biggest concern was with the insurance,” Reppenhagen said.

Pastor Wil Sharpe provided the board with a copy of an insurance rider at the meeting Monday and Reppenhagen said he provided it to the center’s insurance agent on Tuesday.

“We are trying to make a difference and this will help a lot of families in the area,” Sharpe said Monday.

Sharpe told the board that only a certain number of guests would be allowed in at one time to mitigate the traffic, and those people would be limited to the food line before exiting the building.

“These people won’t be here for coffee or even to use the bathroom,” Sharpe said. “They go through the line, get their food and are on their way. It has really become a well oiled machine.”

However, the event has been unable to take place because of the bitter winter cold. Sharpe said he has been looking for a place in the city to house the event three months during the year, January through March, so that his volunteers who stand in the freezing weather for six hours don’t have to be so cold.

He said the Senior Center was the church’s final option that has the space and access needed to facilitate the program.

Last month, Sharpe said his request was denied by the board due to questions about the insurance coverage, but he brought the idea back up this month after he had proof of coverage.

However, Reppenhagen said the board held a special meeting on Thursday and voted in favor of allowing the church to use the space for three months.

Sharpe said the church is looking to use the center Jan. 9, Feb. 13 and March 13. He said with the January date quickly approaching it is important he receives notice on whether the center will be available so he can tell the truck to make the delivery.

The church accepts donations, but no donations are required to receive food, Sharpe said. He said the event is free to the church and community thanks to a state grant through the Regional Food Bank. The items vary from one month to the next, but there is always enough food, Sharpe said. He said no food will go to waste because food that isn’t taken is delivered and donated to other agencies and programs in the area such as Meals on Wheels.